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Angel City FC 2022 Player Postmortem: Tyler Lussi

New position doesn’t slow player down at all with Angels.

Nikita Taparia

2022 was a transformative year for Tyler Lussi, and it was with Angel City FC.

The forward had enjoyed four seasons as a depth forward for the Portland Thorns, winning one league title and one Shield in that span there. Lussi was an excellent defensive forward, good at putting in a shift, but admittedly not especially productive in terms of goals.

Traded to Angel City alongside another forward, Simone Charley, Lussi became a key player in Los Angeles in 2022, starting at her lifetime position before transforming into a right back over the back half of the season.

Yes, in hindsight it is somewhat surprising to remember Lussi, a player who had not ever played in defense in her pro or college career, suddenly became a right back at Angel City and excelled instantly at the position switch. But that’s what happened.

Lussi was an attacker into mid-May, before she moved to defense, first filling in at left back, in an absolute pinch, when Ali Riley was out with COVID, before switching to right back for the rest of the season after two games on the left side.

Here are Lussi’s competitive stats with Angel City in 2022:

Tyler Lussi Angel City FC 2022 Statistics

2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Challenge Cup 6 5 437 1 0 6 3 0 0
Regular Season 20 16 1,460 0 0 14 6 4 1
Total 26 21 1,897 1 0 20 9 4 1

I would submit this was the most impressive coaching move Freya Coombe made in 2022. The position switch makes sense on a lot of levels: “Defensive forward” can sound like a kind euphemism, but Lussi is genuinely an attacker who presses hard and literally does the dirty defensive work from the front. Given that, her work rate, her ability to maintain stamina for a full game (a must for a defender) and the fact that Angel City had other options in attack when the position switch was made, it was a worthy gamble.

And boy, did it pay off. Consider that Angel City didn’t have a healthy starting right back on their roster pretty much all season. The solution for Coombe? Platoon Jasmyne Spencer — another converted forward, albeit one who has done spot duty all over the field previously in her NWSL career — with Lussi, and they killed it. Considering they were conceivably the obvious weak spots for the backline, they actually didn’t play like the weak links.

Given she went from “novice to part-time starter,” I think Lussi has conceivably expanded her career prospects with the change to fullback, and I think she can continue to get better. She’s 27, she should have many years ahead of her in pro soccer, but her ability to defend well from the front and defend well in the back puts her in a good spot moving forward.

Here’s her scouting report graph on, and I must say up front, the divided time in different positions skews this reading. I think her time as an actual fullback was less attacking than what is showed here compared to other fullbacks, because she still played eight games up top as a striker.

Still, check out the defensive categories at the bottom, she was above average to elite all over the place. This is a player who isn’t just a good defensive forward, she’s a good defender, period.

Here was Lussi’s goal on the season, a great team setup that she finished well in the Challenge Cup.

It’s unclear what Lussi’s contract status is for 2023, but I have to think Angel City will be happy to bring her back. A versatile player who made a big position change on the fly is impressive, and her workrate was an asset all over the field. She made the switch better than reasonably expected, and I think she’ll remain a key player for the Angels moving forward.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.